Early voting for the Nov. 7, 2017, General Election begins on Oct. 11, 2017. This year, in addition to weighing in on local candidates and issues, Ohioans will also decide two statewide issues – one dealing with rights for crime victims and the other on prescription drug prices. Haven't had a chance to brush up on the details? Good news: The OSBA's got you covered. The following provides background on each, including, in the case of State Issue 1, the OSBA's official position.
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www.MyOhioVote.com to see what's on your ballot, find your polling place, or if you want to vote by mail, to request your ballot.
State Issue 1 – Marsy’s Law
Background: In 1983, California businessman Henry Nicholas' sister, Marsy, was stalked and killed by an ex-boyfriend. A week later, he and his mother were shocked to run into the ex-boyfriend at a grocery store, as the family had not been notified by the authorities that he was out of jail. This traumatic event inspired Nicholas to advocate for and ultimately succeed in passing amendments to the state constitutions of California, Illinois, North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana to specifically include a 10-point bill of rights for victims of crime. Similar efforts are underway in Kentucky, Georgia, Nevada, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Idaho, Oklahoma, and Maine; and this November, Ohioans will vote on whether or not to include Nicholas' Victims Bill of Rights in the Ohio Constitution as well. For the record, the Ohio Constitution has included a victims rights amendment since 1994, but it does not enumerate what those rights are, leaving the specifics to ORC Chapter 2930.
What Proponents Say: The victims' rights provisions in the Ohio Constitution and Ohio statute do not do enough to protect Ohio victims of crime and are not uniformly enforced across the state. By including the specific rights in the state constitution, we can level the playing field between the rights of victims and the rights of offenders.
Read the official arguments for State Issue 1
What Opponents Say: Ohio law already includes protections and supports for victims of crime. Enumerating these specific rights in the Constitution could lead to unintended consequences, including increased costs to taxpayers, and should victims be granted new standing in criminal proceedings, significant delays and additional hardships in achieving justice in criminal cases.
Read the official arguments against State Issue 1
OSBA Position – Opposed
The Ohio State Bar Association supports the rights of Ohio crime victims and believes in a fair and just resolution to all criminal matters, but does not believe that State Issue 1 is the way to achieve either goal.
Though well intentioned, an out-of-state organization is seeking to amend Ohio’s constitution, enshrining in it a Victims Bill of Rights that would be more extensive and more detailed than any other right currently enumerated in the state Bill of Rights. This will undoubtedly lead to unintended consequences, including increased costs and potential delays in the criminal justice system.
In addition to the Ohio Constitution's current victim rights amendment, protections already exist in Ohio law (Chapter 2930) for Ohio victims of crime, including the right to be notified of the arrest, criminal proceedings, conviction and/or acquittal, incarceration and the release date of the offender. Rather than amending the state constitution, the best way to enhance these rights or to ensure their uniform enforcement is through a deliberative legislative process and the OSBA stands ready to work with all interested parties in that endeavor.
Learn More About State Issue 1:Informational video produced by the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office.
State Issue 2 - Drug Price Relief Act
Background: Issue 2 is an initiated statute that, if passed, would require the state and state agencies, including the Ohio Department of Medicaid, to pay the same or lower prices for prescription drugs as the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). It mirrors California’s Proposition 61, an initiative sponsored by Michael Weinstein, President of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), which ultimately was rejected by voters (53% to 47%) last year. Weinstein and the AHF are behind Ohio’s initiative proposal as well (both bankrolling the signature collection and the pro-Issue 2 campaign). On the other side of the argument, just as it was in California, is PhRMA – the trade association representing the pharmaceutical industry, which is spending millions to defeat it. In fact, with both sides filling up the airwaves, Issue 2 is well on pace to become the most expensive ballot initiative in Ohio history (even more than the casinos). Both campaigns have recruited strategists and high-profile groups and individuals in Ohio to make their cases, most notably, veteran organizations opposed to the issue; however, independent legal and medical experts are dubious as to if it will result in significant savings and how it would even work. A provision included in the Issue 2 language and garnering much focus from the vote-no side, would require Ohio taxpayers to pay for the petitioners’ legal expenses should the issue be challenged in court. A legal battle is widely anticipated should the measure be approved.
What Proponents Say: The U.S spends twice as much per capita on prescription drugs than the average spent by 19 other industrialized countries and absent real action from Washington, D.C., the public must take action to combat overpriced and unfair drug prices. Ohioans should pay no more for drugs than the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, which receives a discount of at least 24%. This could result in a savings of $400 million per year for Ohioans.
Read the official arguments for State Issue 2
What Opponents Say: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Issue 2 proponents are grossly overstating the potential cost savings and if implemented, Issue 2 could disrupt similar discounts Ohio has already negotiated, including 23.1% for Medicaid, which serves 3 million Ohioans. The proposal would be nearly impossible to implement because some drug prices paid by the VA are kept secret by contract and because Ohio has no authority to force drug companies to sell prescription drugs at a discounted price. In fact, as a result, drug companies could refuse to sell certain drugs or limit their availability, triggering higher drug prices for veterans, senior citizens and the two-thirds of Ohioans with private or employer-based health care coverage. In addition, Ohio taxpayers should not have to foot the bill for legal fees incurred by those supporting Issue 2 in the inevitable legal disputes that will arise should it pass.
Read the official arguments against State Issue 2
OSBA Position: No position taken
Learn More About State Issue 2:Informational video produced by the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office.